Bebo plots Snapchat’s downfall with video messages that don’t self destruct

The UK’s former social media top dog is on its way back as Bebo prepares to come back in a very different guise to its original self.

Related: Bebo seeks revenge on Facebook and Twitter by making comeback

Blab, the first of three apps in the pipeline from Bebo, is a free video messaging service similar to Snapchat except that messages aren’t deleted after one viewing.

It works like Snapchat in that the video records by holding down the smartphone screen but there is one distinct difference – a video doesn’t self capitulate as soon as it is viewed. This allows users to watch the latest video a friend has sent them up until the next one is sent and there is even a unique feature that will delete the video right after it has been sent.

"Of course, we understand that sometimes people make mistakes when they send a video [saying the wrong thing, or choosing the wrong person], so we made an even simpler way to cancel the video," Shaan Puri, CEO of Monkey Inferno, the tech incubator behind Bebo’s revival, told The Daily Telegraph. "All you have to do is 'shake-to-destroy', which means you can shake your phone within 5 seconds of sending a video, and it will cancel sending the video."

There are even allowances for users that want to send a video to someone without the app, who will receive the video via SMS and be able to reply in the same way.

All three of the new apps are designed to be simple and fun to use with friends, according to Puri, and the company is clearly targeting the messaging sector that is ripe for growth.

"While there are many apps on the phone, the killer app is still communication and messaging. For the first time, we've made video messaging incredibly user friendly. People are saying it's like being able to do Facetime, but on your own time,” Puri added.

At its height Bebo was the UK’s largest social network site with 10.7 million unique users and AOL eventually took the plunge and bought it for $850 million [£509 million] back in March 2008. For the next five years it floundered in the face of global behemoths Facebook and Twitter before founder Michael Birch bought it back for just $1 million [£600,000] July 2013.

Related: Social networking: The next generation

Bebo plans to release the app on iOS starting in March before an Android version follows shortly afterwards with those on the Bebo.com waiting list that numbers 650,000 getting priority.